Making College “Worth It” – Season 1, Episode 4

Caroline Ketcham and Tony Weaver, co-editors of Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning, share strategies for faculty and students to make the most of these high-impact opportunities for learners to integrate and reflect on the skills and knowledge they’ve developed across their college experiences.

In 2019 and 2021 surveys of recent U.S. college graduates, conducted by the Elon Poll and the Center for Engaged Learning, only 32% of participants reported participating in a capstone experience. The more “high-impact educational practices” they participated in, though, including capstone experiences, the more likely recent graduates were to consider college worth their financial and time commitment.  

Capstones can serve varied purposes in a college education, but they’re often a space where students can integrate what they’re learning across their courses and think about how to adapt their knowledge for future goals. 

View a transcript of this episode.

Meet Our Guests

Caroline Ketcham

Caroline J. Ketcham is professor of exercise science at Elon University. She co-led the Center for Engaged Learning’s (CEL) research seminar on capstone experiences and is currently the CEL scholar focusing on equity and access to high-impact practices for neurodivergent and physically disabled students. Caroline’s expertise is in movement neuroscience and she serves as codirector of Elon BrainCARE Research Institute. Caroline has won university-wide awards for mentoring, scholarship, teaching, and service.

Anthony Weaver

Anthony G. Weaver is associate dean of the School of Communications and professor of sport management at Elon University. He co-led the Center for Engaged Learning’s 2018–2020 research seminar on capstone experiences. His application of high-impact practices has led to several mentored capstone experiences including undergraduate research projects, internships, and the creation of student leadership opportunities.

Episode Credits

This episode is co-hosted by Jessie L. Moore, Director of Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning, and Nolan Schultheis, a first-year student at Elon University, studying Psychology with an interest in law. Making College “Worth It” is produced by Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning.

Episode art was created by Jennie Goforth, managing editor for the Center for Engaged Learning, and Nolan Schultheis, the Center’s undergraduate Podcast Producer.

Funky Percussions is by Denys Kyshchuk (@audiocoffeemusic) – Soft Beat is by ComaStudio.

Learn More about Research Featured in this Episode

Book cover of Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning, edited by Caroline J. Ketcham, Anthony G. Weaver, and Jessie L. Moore

Cultivating Capstones

20% Discount Available with discount code AFL03 on Routledge website. Please note that this discount code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount and only applies to books purchased directly via This code expires on 31 December 2023.

Capstone Experiences

Definition Capstone experiences aim to facilitate students’ sense-making of their growth and development across their major or general educational studies and have been a hallmark of undergraduate education in one form or another for at least as long as higher education has…

Browse additional research on capstone experiences.